Women's Workout for Arms

Women's Workout for Arms

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Fear not -- lifting weights won't make your arms big and bulky.

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After toned abs and curved glutes and thighs, sculpted arms are at the top of every fit woman's wish list. Though you can't burn fat directly from your arms with only weight training exercises, you can build shapely, defined biceps and triceps with the right kind of weight training routine.

Compounding the Issue

The most effective way to work your arms is with compound exercises that work multiple muscles, according to trainer Jay Cardiello writing for Shape magazine. These exercises hit the biceps and triceps in your arms, but they also work other muscles of the torso. By working more muscle fibers at the same time, you're not only building muscle more efficiently, you are also burning more calories for overall fat loss. Compound exercises for your biceps include chin-ups, rows and pull-downs, while compound exercises for the triceps include dips on parallel bars or a dipping machine and bench presses or pushups using narrow-hand spacing.

Begin with Body Weight

Forget fancy machines -- body weight moves are a highly efficient way to work your arms. For your biceps, start your routine with underhand chin-ups. If you think you can't do chin-ups, think again. Fitness coach Neghar Fonooni on Girls Gone Strong recommends using a band wrapped around the bar and positioned underneath your knees to help you complete chin-ups. Alternatively, simply hang in the bottom position for as long as possible to build strength. Pair your chin-ups with a body weight triceps move. Close-grip pushups are an obvious choice, but if these are too tough at the moment, do close-grip knee pushups or dips on parallel bars using a resistance band in the same way you did for the assisted chin-ups.

All About Isolations

After a body weight exercise onslaught, your arms should be on the way to fatigue, but you're not done yet. The next step is to introduce isolation exercises. For your biceps, perform two types of curl using dumbbells, barbells, a cable machine or a fixed-path resistance machine. You can sit down or stand up for any of these, but just make sure you keep your elbows tucked in to your sides and use a controlled speed on every rep.

For triceps, pushdowns and extensions on a cable machine work well, as do seated and lying barbell or dumbbell overhead extensions. After close-grip pushups, the best move for your triceps are kickbacks, claims trainer Karen Borsari of Shape. To perform the triceps kickback, bend forward at your waist while holding a dumbbell into your side with your elbow bent to 90 degrees. Straighten your arm back behind you to work the triceps. Work both arms.

The Nitty Gritty

If awesome arms are your priority, train them twice a week, on a Monday or Tuesday, for example, and then again nearer the end of the week or weekend. Start each session with two body weight arm moves and then two isolations for both your biceps and triceps. Women's Fitness magazine recommends beginner, intermediate and advanced trainers to respectively do for each arm two sets, with eight reps per set; three sets with 10 reps per set; and four sets, with 10 reps per set.